Posts Tagged ‘Cougar’

Car Talk

29 June 2011

Dear J-

I remember when my parents traded in their old Cougar in 1980. It was eleven years old at that point and pretty tired, 351 Windsor backed up by an automatic transmission somehow making it through the gas crises of the 70s but finally falling victim to the desire for more cargo space. It was supplanted by an Oldsmobile Cutlass wagon whose rear windows didn’t roll down: that was considered either unsafe for children or lazy on the part of the designers. On the other hand the cargo space was measured to make sure that my brother and I could lie down side-by-side to sleep so safety may not have been the paramount concern.

I imagine my dad had a bit of an obsession since going to Yellowstone the year before with his uncle. We rode in the Cougar crammed full and riding on a plywood board converting the back seat into a seatbelt-less playpen while my grand-uncle drove his kids majestically in a new Olds Ninety-Eight wagon complete with nausea rear-facing 3rd-row seat (unfolded to my amazement and constant wonder) and power windows, heck, power-everything. The Cougar left us stranded once in Spokane (outside of R&R in fact) and that must have sealed its fate. Hubcaps missing and headlight covers somewhat askew (we never killed any cats but they were always tempted by warm spaces under the hood) we rolled into Barton Oldsmobile looking for our next ride.

The first Camry followed in quick succession and later cars for the family we imported from China: a Citation for my uncle and aunt, an Escort for my cousin, a cargo van for the store which we spent hours insulating and upgrading in the driveway — I was young enough to not have much homework and fascinated by tools and the promise of change too, at the conjunction of child and sullen pre-teen that velcros themselves to the nearest parental adult and believes they can do no wrong. I think about my fourteen-year-old Subaru and wonder if I should get something new when it still runs fine and economically and wonder if figgy would miss it like I do the Cougar sometimes.